We Summary and Analysis of Records 17-24


Following the doctor’s orders, D-503 walks along the Green Wall separating the city from the wilderness outside. Suddenly he sees the muzzle and yellow eyes of a beast on the other side and wonders if the animal could be happier than he is. At the Ancient House, D-503 kisses the old caretaker in a rush of joy before exploring the house. When he sees S-4711, D-503 flees into a wardrobe and finds himself in a series of secret tunnels. He blacks out, describing the attack as a “temporary death” (94). Eventually he awakens and comes to a door, where the surprised doctor answers his knock. D-503 feels delirious and confused. I-330 arrives and escorts him back to the world above. Afterwards D-503 claims his scratched fingers are proof he fell down the tunnel, but a co-worker informs him he hurt them on a sanding wheel.

D-503 is tortured by dreams of a blade on I-330’s throat. In the morning he begins his routine, feeling increasingly alienated. He reflects that his diary has become a “fantastic adventure novel” instead of the sober record he first intended (99). After his evening walk, D-503 arrives to find a letter waiting for him. The woman on duty, U, who reads all the letters, sympathizes with him and offers him companionship. Instead of the letter he expects from I-330, D-503 finds the letter is from O-90 asking if she should withdraw her sexual registration for him. She also writes that she loves him.

At work, the INTEGRAL’s engines incinerate ten men, but progress continues as usual. D-503 expects a visit from I-330, but a man arrives in her stead with a letter. I-330 asks D-503 to lower his blinds and punch her sex ticket, as if she were there. D-503 is angry and hurt. Later, he attends a lecture in an auditorium and feels the impulse to scream aloud. During the lecture a child almost falls off stage and O-90 rushes up to save him. S-4711 follows D home and waits outside the building. D-503 finds O in his apartment, devastated and depressed. He cruelly tells her that she should absolutely withdraw her sexual registration. O-90 begs him to have a child with her; she claims not to care whether or not she is executed. D-503 agrees and lowers the blinds and punches I-330’s ticket according to the letter’s instructions.

D-503 writes an entry directed at the aliens, the “Uranites” and “Venusians”, who will be conquered by OneState with the help of the INTEGRAL. He explains that an individual can have no rights when weighed against the interests of the collective. He writes that many of his readers, members of yet to be conquered societies, will not understand this enlightened reasoning. In OneState all crimes against the state are punished by death, from an unplanned pregnancy to murder to rebellion. D-503 describes human history as ascending spirals, implying that OneState is the pinnacle of human achievement. He admits that this totalitarian government is separated from darkness and anarchy by “but the breadth of a knife blade”, but has confidence in the knife.

Anxiously waiting to see I-330, D-503 returns to the Ancient House, where birds from the wilderness outside are throwing themselves against the glass. The caretaker advises him not to enter, but D-503 wanders through the garden regardless, looking for the exit from the secret tunnels. Not finding the exit, he turns to leave but is stopped by S-4711. Ten or twelve Guardian ships buzz above and S-4711 explains that they are preventative measures. When he arrives home, the same woman on duty, U, comforts him. They discuss the upcoming Day of Unanimity. That night, D-503 dreams of making love to a wooden chair.

The next morning, while on the daily walk, D-503 witnesses a rectangle of soldiers escorting a group of condemned citizens. One of the condemned, a young boy, tries to peer outside the rectangle and into the walking crowd. The Guardians begin tasing the boy repeatedly. D-503 is shocked as he watches a woman emerge from the crowd to defend the boy. In an instant he realizes the woman is I-330 and runs to save her. Once he reaches her, D-503 sees the woman is actually a stranger. He is immediately arrested. S-4711 appears and, explaining his illness, orders the other Guardians to release D-503. D-503 writes that one is not conscious of something until it aches or is disturbed, concluding that self-consciousness is a disease.

D-503 compares his personal evolution to a flower painfully blooming. I-330 finally visits and comforts him; he describes dissolving into her persona. He finds himself unable to articulate his ideas and surprised at how slowly the time is passing. I-330 asks him not to forget her. While helping I-330 put one her stockings, D-503 knocks the pages of his journal down and is unable to reorder them. He writes that this doesn’t matter, since “there’s no real order, anyway” (128). He begs I-330 to tell him of her plans, but she refuses to give him any more information until after the Day of Unanimity. Before she leaves, I-330 asks about his progress on building the INTEGRAL.

Describing himself as an overheated machine, D-503 reflects on the paradox of love. He both wants and doesn’t want to be united with I-330, and his desire for her overwhelms his knowledge that their affair will end with his pain and death. He has abandoned rationality. D-503 explains that the Day of Unanimity is in fact an Election Day, where every citizen votes for the Benefactor. Strangely, he compares it to Easter in the ancient world. All voting is done in public and Guardians hide in the crowd ready to dispatch any rebels. D-503 say the elections are “symbolism” to remind people of the state’s collective spirit (132). He cannot believe the ancients had anonymous elections whose outcome was not decided in advance. He pauses and reveals that he does not find OneState and its ceremonies important, only I-330 matters. I-330 calls, disrupting his thoughts. She explains she wants him with her tomorrow on the Day of Unanimity, but then quickly changes her mind and hangs up.


In these Records D-503’s personality begins to unravel. His behavior is beyond irrational; it is delirious. At the Ancient House he kisses an old caretaker, overcome with joy (92), before he blacks out and experiences “temporary death” (93). After the episode he does not know if he is actually speaking words or just thinking them (95). Later he dreams of I-330’s death and claims he doesn’t know “dream from waking” (98). D-503 can no longer distinguish reality from fantasy; the two are dangerously melding together in his mind. He risks his life, thinking he sees I-330, but later realizes the woman was a stranger (122). His behavior becomes increasingly disjointed as his tightly ordered world completely unravels. His narration becomes more unreliable as he loses his understanding of reality.

D-503’s devolution is spurred in part by his love for I-330 and the pain it causes him. He describes the sensation as “a sharp, sweet needle” pushing “deeper and deeper into [his] heart” (96). His entire world is being painfully ripped open by his attraction to I-330. As he “blooms” he feels the pain of the bud as it “bursts open” (126). He understands that love for I-330 means uniting with her, and thus the death of the self. He describes this paradox: a love that makes him feel so vibrantly alive will inevitably lead him to his death (130). D-503 both wants and fears this painful love, even as he understands its irrationality. There is a long history exploring the link between love and death in Western literature. Love is all consuming and irrational; in pursuing love, one unites with another and loses the self. Thus true passionate love is bittersweet and fundamentally irrational, as no one could rationally desire pain or oblivion. Zamyatin taps into this understanding of love when explaining D-503’s destructive passion for I-330.

Readers should not mistake D-503’s passion for I-330 with passion for the revolution. He is no revolutionary. At work, he calmly explains why the death of ten co-workers is no reason for excitement (104). Later, he asserts that human beings can have no rights against the interests of the collective (111). He repeatedly describes himself and others as parts in a larger, grandiose machine. When he realizes the woman he attempts to save is not I-330, he shouts, relieved, “Go on! Grab her!” to the Guardians (123). His concerns about the revolution extend only as far as his love for I-330. He embraces rebellious principles when it allows him to feed his infatuation for her, but rejects them otherwise.

In many ways I-330 replaces OneState in D-503’s life. His entire life before meeting her was dedicated to submitting to the wishes of the government. After their encounter, he dedicates himself to carrying out her wishes, even when they endanger him. When I-330 asks him to provide her with an alibi by lowering his blinds, he does so, even though the consequence could be death (106). Simply by asking I-330 is able to induce him to drink alcohol, miss work and have unscheduled sex. Just as he was united with OneState, as a small cog in a large machine, he unites with I-330. He feels as if he is “dissolving in her” and claims she is “the whole universe” (126). When describing the events of Unanimity Day, D-503 admits that the only thing he cares about anymore is I-330 (133). D-503 does not have the personal strength to stand as an individual; instead, he clings to the stronger OneState or I-330. He is happy to abdicate responsibility and follow orders.

Zamyatin has included several instances of foreshadowing in these Records. In D-503’s dreams he imagines a “cruel flashing blade” of light lingering on I-330’s neck, suggesting her eventual death. Though D-503 believes him to be a loyal Guardian, S-4711’s behavior—bringing D-503 to the Medical Bureau and saving him from arrest (123)—hint at his true identity as a member of the rebels. D-503’s ignorance serves as an example of the novel’s dramatic irony. Additionally, in the record preceding Unanimity Day I-330 inquires about the INTEGRAL when thinking of her plans, revealing that the spaceship will be an important, one could even say integral, part of the rebels’ designs.